LeRoy Historical Society

Page 2 (continued fromcover) (continued on page 3) President Nixon, signed into law the Postal Reorganization Act that removed the Postmaster General from the Cabinet and created an indepen- dent US Postal System. ) Until 1855, most letters were sent “collect.”The postage was paid by the person receiving the letter. Postal rates were high. From 1816 to 1845, the rate for a single folded sheet of pa- per was 6 cents for a distance under 30 miles. (Over $1 today.) Letters were not placed in envelopes,rather,the piece of paper was carefully folded and sealed with a small piece of wax. The address was written on the outside as well as the origin of the letter. Stamps were not available until 1847 which made it possible for the sender to pay for the letter. In fact, an article in the LeRoy Ga- zette in 1851, suggested that people not only buy a stamp to send a letter, but to purchase a stamp and include it in the letter, for a return reply. In 1851, the LeRoy Gazette noted that the Le- Roy post office was no longer accept- ing mail without a stamp. The mail service wasn’t always reliable. According to an article in the Gazette on August 18, 1847: “By the arrival of Uncle Sam’s mails on Thurs- day morning we received the daily pa- pers of Saturday preceding - - only four days from Rochester, a distance of 25 miles! The facilities for letter carrying have been brought to such a state of perfection that a letter or paper can be transmitted on any of the cross routes at a rate of 5 or even 6 miles per day!!” On July 13, 1891, a post office was opened in Limerock. The postmas- ter was Parley Holmes, but the office closed three months later. In March 27, 1891, a post office was opened at Fort Hill. Shelton Crittenden and later Miss Anna O’Reilly served as postmas- ter. The office closed April 30, 1901. One month later, Rural Free Delivery was begun in LeRoy. The history of Rural Free Delivery begins in the 1890s. In 1893 Thomas Edward Watson, a Congressman from Georgia proposed legislation to establish the RFD, but it wasn’t until October 1, 1896 that Rural Free delivery was begun. At first it was only on a trial basis. The RFD was strongly supported by the farm- ers’ Grange organization. The first three routes were in West Virginia. The first rural route carrier in the United States to be sworn in was Russell Crosby from Elba, NY, who became the first RFD car- rier on October 15, 1896. Rural Free Delivery in LeRoy began onMay 1,1901. Two routes were established. One went east along Route 5 and then south. The other went north on Lake Street and then east and eventually to Lime Rock. The southern route was 29 miles long and was driven by Shelton Crittenden, the former postmaster at Fort Hill. The southern route was 23 ½miles and was driven by Perry Clarke. Frank Richmond was appointed the substitute carrier. The men would pick up the mail at 10 in the morning and return in the after- noon by three in order to deposit the mail for the first afternoon train. Any- one who wanted to have mail delivered on these routes had to purchase a des- ignated steel box at the post office.The boxes were manufactured by the Bond Steel Post Company of Adrian Michi- gan and could be purchased for $1.50 or $2.50 at the post office. The official boxes were not required as long as the box was constructed of metal. In 1915, a US Postal employee developed the metal “tunnel-shaped” postal box that is now accepted as the approved rural post office box. It was a ruling by the post of- fice in Washington that determined the “official” spelling of LeRoy. In 1880, Washington changed the spelling of several towns in the United States in- cluding LeRoy. The upper case R was changed to a lower case r. Apparently this caused quite a bit of confusion. Le- roy was receiving mail for Troy and visa versa. The postmaster contacted the other 21 communities of LeRoy and they all preferred the uppercase R. So in 1905, when the LeRoy postmaster was in Washington, he requested the spelling be changed back to the up- percase R and shortly it was officially changed to LeRoy. Although there was rural delivery in part of the town in 1901, it wasn’t until 1905 that the mayor of LeRoy circulated a petition to demand free mail delivery in the village. Appar- ently, LeRoy had been eligible for free delivery for several years, but the post- al department ignored the requests. The Gazette announced that free mail delivery would begin on June 1, 1905. “It is expected that four deliveries daily will be made in the business section and two in the residential portion of the village.” In 1927, Ernest Woodward offered to donate the property on the corner of Mill Street and Main for a new post office. At that time the yearly re- ceipts collected at the LeRoy post office This photograph is from the Alvin Stripp collection.The caption on the back ”first RFD delivered on Route 5 driver was Perry Clark who bought the cart just so he could deliver mail.” (The note implies that this was taken on the first day of Rural Free Delivery in LeRoy on May 1, 1901, however the snow in the photograph indicates that the note was more of a antidotal note, rather than a photo taken on May 1. )